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The laws of war pertain to both national and international laws that dictate what constitutes a just war, what constitutes acceptable behavior in war, and the modes of prosecuting accused war criminals, as either individuals, states, or organizations. Laws of war exist as customary or codified laws, and they exist to circumscribe what weapons are allowed in combat, to define crimes against humanity, to identify protected groups such as prisoners of war (POWs) and noncombatants (particularly children), and to prevent the destruction of cultural heritage. International cooperation in determining the laws of war, as well as their codification, became a prominent issue in Europe in the late 19th century with the First Geneva and Hague Conventions in 1864 and 1899, respectively, and reached high points ...

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